Thursday, July 12, 2012

Back (again)... New tunes, personal addendum to The Connect article, etc....

Hey kidz!

So, it's been (almost a coupla) years since I've even opened up this here blog siteMotivation comes and goes. I really do care, but have had other things on my plate.  In response to the recent Connect article, as a personal addendum, I'd just like to stress that my intentions were to lay out my experience as a cautionary tale, and possibly as a source of inspiration for others that may find themselves in a similar situation.  I feel that the focus of the piece weighed pretty heavily on my time with The Train Wrecks, and while I don't regret any of what was said, I just hope that you, dear readers, don't come away from the article thinking that it was merely a pissy, public "Fuck you!" to the band.  I spent most of my time during the conversation with the author, Bill DeYoung, speaking of hope for the future, newer projects, and of how things in one's life can rebound from bad situations. My goal was to help others avoid the catastrophic results of horrible decision making, especially when combined with atrocious lifestyle choices.  In short, don't be a selfish prick, and don't drive like an animal.  At best, you'll screw up your own life for a little while.  At worst, you could forever ruin the lives of loved ones or innocent bystanders.  I did feel that the tone of the article may have made me seem to be somewhat stuck in resentment, which is far from the case.  My main complaint concerns the line that said there was "still bad blood in the air".  I honestly don't feel that way, and know that both the band and myself are in happier places.  I was dissatisfied with my role in the band, but that was all on me.  Any communication issues were as much my fault as anyone's.  Just as I fully accept the legal consequences that my actions have deservedly brought me, I likewise willingly own up to my very large part in causing the unhappiness within the band at the time.  Another jarring inaccuracy was Mr. DeYoung's assertion that you flip burgers at McDonald's.  Not true!  They cook on both sides at the same time.  All you have to do is scrape whatever the hell that shit is off of the grill and stick it between two buns.  Where's an ombudsman when you need one?  For the most part (almost across the board, actually), everyone has been overwhelmingly supportive and positive in the wake of the article's publication.  Thank you friends!  On the other hand, one of my facebook "bff's" made the comment after reading the piece: "Bitter much?" I can see how somebody could get that feeling from what was written. And the answer to that question is, simply, no.  Plus, the article was real good press for Jen's coffee shop, which is fucking awesome.

So, yeah, there's that.  I've also got some new music for yous guys.  This tune was written right before I went in to the pokey, and then I had a hot minute to sit and think about how I'd like to arrange it, record it, produce it, etc.  Lotsa thinkin' time....  And so far, I'm likin' it!  And if I ever get around to recording a bass guitar part for it, it'll be even bettah.  I'll update the track as soon as that's finished.  It features the always fantastic Stu Harmening from the T' Wrecks on dobro, and there'll be more comin', fo' sho'.

You can download that shizzle for free, BTW....

Wednesday, September 1, 2010

Hey there.....
So it's been a while since I've posted, and I know the 0.73 people that peruse my site whenever I post something are very worried, but rest assured that all is well. Still rawkin', still gettin' up every morning (more or less). I'll be brief (if not frank) this week. Gaze upon:


Yaaaay! It's never on Tuesday, and it's never on time! I love being redundant!!! That's what the internet gets for lettin' a drummer type stuff. It's a got-damn free-for-all in here.... It'll always end in tears....

Anyhoo, this week's entry features the highly estimable Tim "Sweet T" Warren, which is as it should be. This man has soul (even if his roomie in a drunken fit accused him otherwise), and impeccable musical taste. He is a true rock & roll enthusiast, and has perhaps the best CD collection I've ever seen ("What's a CD?" - kids these days). This week I get some help. Hallelujah! I hope for a lot more folks to contribute to this site, especially if their contributions are as awesome as me & Tim's version of:

"The Agony of Lafitte" - Spoon

Spoon are remarkable. The continuous stream of classic albums they've cranked out makes the mind wobble. And Britt's very tall and handsome and full of charasma (ed. note - go to 0:45 of the video), ladies! Apparently they're the best band evah! And they (arguably) are. They've reached a level of fame and fortune where they can live very comfortably, while having seemingly complete creative control over their artistic output, without having to deal with the bullshit pitfalls of yr typical "pop" star. Pretty much all of the bands in my most listened to list have that same aesthetic. Make your living by writing great songs and playing them live. Wilco, Guided By Voices, Lucero, centro-matic, Drive-By Truckers, etc..... They all occupy a very privileged spot in pop/indie culture, where their music and the brand of their respective bands almost completely eclipse the personalities and individuals creating the music, and to their/our benefit. I don't want Nels Cline worrying whether or not the papparazzi is gonna catch him pickin' his nose at some L.A. hotspot, I want him crankin' out nasty leads that make me wish I had started playin' guitar a lot earlier than I did. Jeebus, he rocks.

For this tune, Tim played acoustic and sang the lead vocal, I played an acoustic lead and sang the backup vocals, that were fuzzed out with an ole-timey telephone effect. This is one of the most fun songs to play whenever I get to gig out with Tim. The song is a big gi-normous FUCK YOU to Elektra Records label guy Ron Lafitte, who was responsible for completely screwing the band after they put out their classic record "Girls Can Tell".

And since I screwed you guys on literally minutes of all this fantastic web-based nonsense over the past few weeks, we now have..... wait for it.....


I know! It's crazazy!!! I make the rulez (that are never followed) around here. Dammit. Deal wit it....

"Ft. Worth Blues" - Steve Earle

This is a great song honoring the memory of Townes Van Zandt, the (in)famous Texas singer-songwriter of "Pancho & Lefty" , etc., fame. Steve and Townes and Guy Clark were all buddies back in the day, and after Townes passed away, Steve wrote this tune. It's moving, and touching, and brilliant in it's simplicity, and more people should write songs like these.

Here's a youtube video of one of the greatest versions of this song ever. I actually caught this on GAC or whatever when it was first aired, before I even really KNEW who Steve Earle or Townes Van Zandt were..... But this song, and this performance, put me on the right track.

For my version, I just sang, played guitar and harmonica straight into garageband in one take, then added a coupla keyboard tracks, mandolin, and some extras.... I hope you enjoy.

Catch both of these songs on my myspace page.

I'll post more, I promise. Thanks for reading/listening.....


Wednesday, August 11, 2010

COVER-TASTIC TUESDAY: When we're killed or cured....

So here we are again, more than a day late and way more than a dollar short. Why do I even put "Tuesday" in the title? I DID record this song on Tuesday, so there's that, at least. Without further ado, this week's tune:

"Ariel Ramirez" - Richard Buckner

I have to admit, I didn't really know a whole lot about Richard Buckner other than this song before doin' a little research for the post. His was a name that was always on my periphery, being mentioned in the same breath with other darkly impressionistic southern-gothic folk singers as the late, great Townes Van Zandt, Guy Clark, & Jimmie Dale Gilmore, to Jay Farrar in his creakier, more experimental moments to Sparklehorse' Mark Linkous. I'd gotten a hold of several of his tunes, but the one that always stood out was "Ariel Ramirez". A short two-minute stagger through melancholy and regret, it's spare instrumentation and lyrics-that-talk-about-everything-but-the-actual-point-he's-trying-to-make afford listeners the opportunity to let their minds create images and interpretations that tap into their own past experiences, without ever getting too specific. Being literal isn't Richard's thing. He's had a long career, with it's business ups & downs (he was signed to MCA for a hot minute in the late 90's & soon thereafter unceremoniously dropped - he dubbed the label "Musical Career Assasins", and spent entire shows asking the audience if anyone knew an actual honest record label executive), but with a consistently progressing artistic arc that finds him becoming more vague, more restless, and even more willing to push the boundaries of his songwriting and his arrangements. In essence, taking his own aesthetic as far as he can drag it. They've even used the song in a Volkswagen commercial.

Here's Buckner's version:

I love the misspelling of "Your" in the second line. The fancy font makes it even funnier.

(ed. note - It's been a while since I started composing this post, and in the meantime, Buckner's song "A Gauzy Dress in the Sun" has been on a damn-near constant loop. Sweet Jesus in the morning, what a song.)

For my version, I went over to my good friend Tim "Sweet T" Warren's house out in Bloomingdale, GA, to record. He's got a little studio/man-cave that is pimped out properly and has a real comfortable feel for layin' down tracks. He's also a pretty rockin'-good songwriter in his own right. Check it! I kinda swapped Buckner's guitar lines for piano, put a old-telephone-call effect on the backing vocals, and let the song do the rest of the work.

You can stream it at my MySpace page.....


Sunday, August 8, 2010

Look at THIS guy.

Hey kidz-

Just a quick note, a follow-up to the little rant I went on last time about Prop 8 and all the people who are out there worrying about everyone else's behavior, while completely disregarding the messes that are their own lives. One of the worst (if not THE worst), most ri-donk-ulously hateful, ignorant and hypocritical "churches" (or organizations? or Klans?) is the Westboro Baptist Church of Topeka, KS. This church's congregation, and their #1 Head Asshole-in-Charge Fred Phelps are responsible for the entire movement. No link, but feel free to go there if you wanna be upset/have a laugh at extraordinarily stupid people.

Anyhoo, one of their cronies (read: assholes), decided to camp out down in Key West with a buncha very clever signage to protest the absolute abomination that they believe is homosexuality. Well, one kid decided not to just let it go, went and made one of the most awesome signs ever (black & white, minimalist, genius) and set up his own camp right next to him. The picture has now gone viral, just as awesome, cute, funny (i know this vid contains the word "faggot", but it's a satire of stupid people saying stupid things, so, y'know...), horrible things on the internet are wont to do. Bathe in the glory:

Well played, sir..... Well played.

I'll theoretically be back on Tuesday with another Cover-Tastic Tuesday post, with new music and analysis. Which means, see ya on Wednesday nite and/or Thursday mornin'!

'Til next time!


Wednesday, August 4, 2010

COVER-TASTIC TUESDAY - When Jesus Christ returns to earth....

So, yeah.... It's not Tuesday anymore. See, what had happened wuz.....

Of the three Cover-Tastic Tuesday posts so far, only one has actually made it to the site on a Tuesday. BtB is nothing, if not a well-oiled, interweb savvy, blog-o-spheric, 1's & 0's-spittin' machine. Go team! We'll try harder, I promise. In my defense, we (The Train Wrecks) played in Charleston, SC, last nite @ The Pour House, which rawked, and then hauled arse back to Savannah to play at 10:30AM (like, in the morning... ouch) for the B-I-G HUGE announcement that Rock & Run will be comin' to town next year. Mayor Otis was there, we've got pictures comin' in the Savannah Morning News (ed. - scroll through the pics on the rock & run link), the people from the big, talkin' picture box were there to get some video footage of us, and a suprisingly large number of SAV's movers & shakers were there. In suits & ties (& pant-suits for the power ladies. I like-a dat look for some reason.... Meeee-ow!), all sweatin' like Sarah Palin during a vocabulary test. (Palin - "I can see Russia from my house, and I can make up entire new words on a whim") Heat index was around 115 degrees. Ugh. And now it's nap time, for reals....

But let's take on the latest cover tune before I pass out:

The Fountains - "Talks American"

I first heard this song back when I was livin' in Clemson, SC (Go Tigers? Bein' a Clemson sports fan is brutal). It's a pretty sleepy college town, with not much in the way of a history of notable musical exports. Perhaps the one exception were the gentlemen from Sunbrain. They were the most successful, if not arguably the best, out of a crop of melodic punk-ish indie groups that sprang up in and around the Clemson area during the grunge-alternative bakesale that was goin' on in the 90's. (Everybody gets a contract! Everybody gets airplay!!) They toured a good bit regionally, recorded a bad-ass debut LP, and got snapped up by the newly formed Grass Records. (Quick aside: Grass Records eventually turned into Wind-Up Records, which unleashed Creed on the world, so fuck them, but anyway....) Grass Records had a pretty fantastic roster of high-quality, probably-not-made-for-the-mainstream bands (The Wrens, FTW!), which also included a very young band out of Omaha named Commander Venus, fronted by a precocious kid named Conor Oberst. Today, known mainly as Bright Eyes, he commands huge audiences, beds models & actresses, and moistens the panties of indie/hipster kids the world 'round. Well, he was obviously taking copious notes while listening to and performing with Sunbrain, cause his quivering vibrato that the kids swoon to (because emotion?) are a total rip of the quivering vibrato of Sunbrain's singer David Dondero (because EMOTION!) Oberst even admits it in a June 2004 Spin article naming Sunbrain's Perfection Lies one of the albums that had the most influence on him. Dondero, a criminally underexposed and underappreciated (ed. - sroll down to #10) singer-songwriter now based out of San Francisco, continues to put out beautiful, thoughtful music that, in a more perfect world, would allow him the fame & fortune to be sipping Cristal on a bed littered w/ sweaty, satisfied starlets, while Conor would (should?) be drinkin' OE 800 and eatin' bologna sandwiches outta the back of a 1987 Chevy Astro. I could go on an Oberst-hatin', what-are-you-kids -thinkin' jag forever, but I guess I'll go ahead and digress. Deep breath... In with the good air, out with the bad....

All this lovin' & hatin' leads to the song in the spotlight today. Sunbrain's guitarist Russ Halluer formed Ghostmeat Records in Clemson, SC, before the demise of the band, then picked up his tent and moved to Athens, GA, while things within the group slowly fell apart. A good deal of Ghostmeat's musical output came in the form of numerous, varied, and typically excellent compilation discs featuring bands from the Clemson/Athens area, as well as friends from far afield that they had met while on tour. Of the many standouts scattered across these mixes is "Talks American", by Athens, GA's, The Fountains. A protest song of sorts against the conservative governmental and religious values brought to the forefront during the Reagan era (ed.- totally not dating myself there, right? i turn 76 yrs. old next may. yay social security!!!) , the band sets surreal situations (with The Messiah in a starring role, played by various actors) into exaggerated dogmatic, and sometimes very real, societal norms of the time. It's funny and poignant at the same time, and certainly damning as well, and it's all put to a bluegrass-indebted acoustic guitar figure that ramps up to a full-on rock & roll stomp by the song's end. I don't really know what ultimately happened to the band, and it's just another example of an artist with a really fantastic product that, through financial concerns, personal issues, or just plain bad fuckin' luck, got lost in the shuffle and faded into obscurity. It's a bullshit business, fo' sho', but hopefully a little light will shine on these guys and this wonderful song.

On a related side-note, the last line of this song goes:

Well, when Jesus Christ returns to earth, she's gonna be a five-foot-three Samoan...
She'll speak some words of wisdom, man, but noone here will understand....

'Cause they'll expect to see a man, who hates the queers and talks American.

Prop 8 got overturned in California yesterday calling the ban of gay marriage unconstitutional. Although me, myself, am not necessarily a marriage fan in general (I'm a cynic... It seems like a really shitty contract that doesn't matter if you truly love somebody), I just don't understand the institutional hatred and repression of gay & lesbian people. I could go on another, completely different jag about how useless and vile and, in the end, what a wasted emotion homophobia (or racism, or misogyny) is, but the courts finally got one right, for now at least. If two hypothetical dudes or dudettes wanna get married, go for it! I imagine a gay wedding would be the most fan-tabulous thing evah! But seriously, quit hatin' for no good reason, people. It'll burn you up inside.

Stream "Talks American" by The Fountains here. (ed. - crap. the link isn't really workin' for me on my Apple. if you have real media installed, you may fare better. i'll track down an mp3)

Stream my version on my myspace page here.

No mo' rants today! *steps off of soapbox, falls, breaks hip*



Tuesday, July 27, 2010

COVER-TASTIC TUESDAY - I sing evil, I sing good...

This weeks installment of BtB's evolving cover song project tackles...

SUPERWOLF - "Only Someone Running"

Superwolf is the love-child of indie stalwarts Bonnie "Prince" Billy [ed. - his myspace page has an incredibly annoying hip-hop pop-up song nested in the comments section. you can scroll down to turn it off, but it's worth going to the site just to see the photo of Will on the right side of the page. that's some funny shit] (aka Will Oldham) and Matt Sweeney. Oldham's prickly stage presence is legendary, but his songwriting, released under a wide array of different monikers (Palace Music, Palace Songs, B"P"B, his God-given name) routinely garners critical acclaim (Billy's LP "I See a Darkness" was given one of the few 10.0 record reviews ever awarded by indie taste-maker Pitchfork), and his warbly, Appalachian-inspired, indie-folk tunes have made him a cult favorite on a international scale. He also dabbles in acting, and has done some pretty messed-up interviews from time-to-time. Sweeney has had a far more varied career musically, from fronting the prototypical 90's indie rawk band Chavez (responsible for one of my favorite mix-tape staples), to joining the arena-ready semi-supergroup Zwan (admittedly, "Honestly" is a great song), to playing sideman in Guided By Voices (ed. - got tix for the classic GBV line-up reunion show in ATL... yay.) and to Neil Diamond (!).

Oldham is the chief songwriter in this group. In Amanda Petrusich's review of the 2005 Superwolf LP, she describes Oldham's musical restlessness as his being an "..oddly charismatic songwriter just as well-suited to coughing up death-ballads as he is to giggling out ditties about his penis." At times the band rawk out (albeit slowly, but with purpose), and other times they maintain a charming, spare pretty-ness. "Only Someone Running" is of the latter camp, with loopy three-chord verses, a devastatingly beautiful descending chorus, creaky call-and-response vocals, and a perfectly ridiculous whistle solo. For my version, I went lo-fi, straight into GarageBand using the on-board microphone, recording the guitar, vocals & harmonica all in one take, then overdubbing harmony vocals and percussion later. I love this song... The overall feel is one of longing and a suspicion that the song's narrator doesn't feel worthy of the object of his desire, even though the tone of the music is ultimately hopeful, if not explicity so.

Stream Superwolf's version here.

Stream my version here.

Please enjoy! We'll talk soon....


Saturday, July 24, 2010

I Am Bitchin' & Drinkin'.....

Me and the boys in The Train Wrecks are at LiveWire tonite! We have the pleasure of sharing the stage with the always-awesome Josh Roberts & the Hinges. Played a show with them in Charleston, SC, a coupla weeks back at Home Team BBQ. Eric Libetrau from the City Paper wrote a review of the show. Kind, well-deserved praise for the Hinges. He even kinda-sorta seemed to like us. Thanks? In other cool honest-to-god, printed on newsprint news, Bill DeYoung from The Connect wrote up a nice, long and candid article on us. They even put our ugly mugs on the cover. Keep that issue away from the kids, they'll be scarred for life.... You should check Josh's tunes out. They're all fantastic, but my go-to jam at the moment is "Nautilus". Go listen! Now.

More to come....